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The 3.3t/ha brought in from 20ha of DK Extrovert this harvest by farm manager Andy Murr at Fimber Nab near Driffield was a good three quarters of a tonne down on J.S Scholes’ five-year average. Far from disappointed with it, though, he is sees it as an almost unbelievable recovery from the 1.5t/ha or less they looked like facing back in April.

“Even though we drilled it towards the end of August – at, arguably, about the worst time for flea beetle – the crop grew away well with our normal Topdown and Vaderstad Rapid establishment regime and plenty of muck incorporated beforehand,” he explains. “And it came out of the winter in great shape too.

“It would have been fine despite carrying 10 or more larvae/stem if the spring hadn’t given us a month of cold, dry easterly winds and lots of heavy, late frosts. These fairly ripped the moisture out of the crop, leaving it badly dehydrated with many main racemes lost.

“We were all set to write it off completely until it stunned us with its recovery from  May, branching out and compensating wonderfully well. The seed was certainly smaller in the worst affected areas but the Extrovert yielded its socks off, proving why it has been our favourite for so long now.”

The 32ha of DK Excited, the Scholes family business grew also rewarded Mr Murr and his team, averaging 3.9t/ha from a nearby farm’s two worst, north-facing and very exposed fields. Suffering less from CSFB and at a lower altitude than the Fimber Nab crop, it got through the challenging spring in much better shape.

“DK Extrovert is again our preferred variety for this season,” he says. “We’ve had plenty of moisture so we drilled the Nab ground in the second week of August – after winter barley and incorporated chicken muck – hoping to get it away from what looks set to be considerable flea beetle pressure.

“Pushing our OSR area back towards the 100ha we always used to grow, we’ll be drilling another 36ha of DK Extrovert after spring barley on rather less risky Wolds ground we also have, and trying DK Excited again on 25ha of the other farm – this time on much better fields.”

The current rapeseed market leaves J.S Scholes in a good place margin-wise even with OSR at 3.3t/ha. The ability of their preferred hybrids to deal with adversity and strong market prospects through 2020, are renewing the team’s confidence in what has long been their best combinable break.

While first wheat and potatoes continue to be their main earners, their break crops need to pay their way with the least possible risk. To ensure they do, the rotation has been extended in recent years with vining peas and winter barley so OSR is only grown every six or seven years.

Hybrid varieties have made winter barley an economic option for them too, giving a better OSR entry than they ever had with wheat.  With a reliable contractor removing all the straw, they now have the flexibility to sow as early as the second week in August if conditions are right.  And even where they incorporate chicken muck from a local broiler unit ahead of the rape, they generally have time for a stale seedbed to deal with the inevitable volunteers as well as grassweeds ahead of sowing.

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